Does Vegan Cheese Have Cholesterol?

If you typically consume dairy products, you may be wondering if switching to vegan cheese can help lower your cholesterol levels. If you already follow a vegan diet and have high cholesterol, you may be wondering if your favorite vegan cheeses are to blame.

If so, you’re not alone. The topic of cholesterol is complicated and the effects of different foods on our cholesterol levels are often confusing. 

As a vegan registered dietitian, I hope to clear up some confusion in this blog post! I’ll discuss the role of cholesterol in the body, whether vegan cheeses contain cholesterol and impact the cholesterol levels in our blood, and my top picks for the best cholesterol-friendly options.

What is cholesterol?

Cholesterol is a fatty substance found in the bloodstream and cell membranes of animal tissues. It provides structural support to our cells and is used by the body to synthesize vitamin D and sex hormones like testosterone and estrogen.

The liver produces cholesterol, providing our bodies with all they need for these important functions. Cholesterol can also come from animal-based foods in the diets of omnivores, but it isn’t necessary to get cholesterol from food.

Spreadable cashew cheese garnished with herbs in a bowl on a wooden table with text overlay reading "does vegan cheese have cholesterol?"

Does vegan cheese have cholesterol?

Cholesterol is found only in animal-based foods like meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy. Since vegan cheese is always made from 100% plant-based ingredients, it’s naturally cholesterol-free.

Does vegan cheese raise cholesterol?

Vegan cheese doesn’t contain cholesterol, so you might not think it could impact our cholesterol levels. The answer, however, is more nuanced than this.

Many types of vegan cheese contain saturated fat from coconut oil, coconut cream, and palm oil. The relationship between saturated fat and cholesterol has been hotly debated in recent years, with some claiming saturated fat has no impact on our cholesterol levels, but the scientific evidence doesn’t quite support this.

A 2023 review paper1 in the Journal of Nutrition Science states that saturated fat plays a bigger role in elevating LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels than does cholesterol from foods. The author claimed that recent meta-analyses that didn’t find a link between saturated fat and cholesterol levels were flawed in that they didn’t consider what types of foods people tend to eat in place of saturated fat. 

Additionally, we know that cholesterol levels in some people may respond more to the saturated fat they eat than other people. It isn’t exactly clear why some people respond differently, but it could be due to factors like genetics, bile acid production, and even the gut microbiome.

This study confirmed the findings of a 2020 meta-analysis2, which found small reductions in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol when eating less saturated fat. 

Here’s what I take away from all of this: we may not know the exact degree to which saturated fat can raise cholesterol levels or which people are most prone to these effects, but there does seem to be a relationship. Based on all the scientific evidence we have so far, claiming that saturated fat has no impact on cholesterol levels seems premature.

All in all, enjoying a serving of vegan cheese on your bean chili, vegan pizza, or plant-based charcuterie board once in a while probably isn’t going to have a huge impact on your cholesterol levels on its own. 

That said, if it’s a large part of your diet along with other foods high in saturated fat and you’re experiencing high cholesterol, you may want to consider cutting back a little since some people may be more sensitive to saturated fat than others. 

RELATED: Your Guide to Vegan Fats (And Which Are The Healthiest)

Ingredients in vegan cheese

To understand the saturated fat content of vegan cheese, let’s take a look at the different types of vegan cheese and the ingredients used to make them.

Commercial cheese shreds & slices

I’ve listed the ingredients for three popular brands of vegan cheese shreds in the table below: Follow Your Heart, Daiya, and Violife.

[insert table here]

As you can see, all three are made primarily from saturated fat-rich coconut oil and some form of starch. Daiya also uses expeller-pressed safflower oil while Follow Your Heart adds expeller-pressed canola oil, both of which contain heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats. 

Vegan cheese slices are made from very similar ingredients. These types of highly processed vegan cheeses tend to be higher in saturated fat than nut-based cheeses, as we’ll see below.

RELATED: Is Canola Oil Vegan? Is It Healthy?

Nut-based cheeses

Thanks to their high fat content fats, nuts and seeds make a great base for creamy plant-based cheese alternatives.

Ingredients will understandably vary based on your brand or recipe, but most use a base of cashews, sunflower seeds, or almonds thanks to their mild, neutral taste that blends well with other flavors.

Since nut-based cheeses rely less on coconut oil, they tend to be lower in saturated fat and higher in heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats.

RELATED: The 7 Best Nuts for Vegans (and How to Eat More of Them!)

Vegan brie and crackers served on a wooden charcuterie board

Best vegan cheeses for high cholesterol

So what are the best options for reducing saturated fat intake while still enjoying vegan cheese? I’ve listed my picks below!

1. Miyoko’s Creamery (most products)

I love this brand because Miyoko’s makes their cheeses from a base of cashew milk. Most of their cheeses are low in saturated fat with only 1.5 to 3.5 grams per serving except their Smoked Gouda artisan cheese, which has 8 grams.

2. NOOCH IT! Cashew Parmesan

Made from fair trade cashews and cheesy-tasting nutritional yeast, NOOCH IT! Cashew Parmesan makes a tasty and nutritious addition to pasta dishes. 

Bonus: it also has zero grams of saturated fat per tablespoon.

3. Follow Your Heart 

Follow Your Heart makes some of the best-tasting vegan cheese. Some vegan cheeses are bland or stick to the roof of your mouth, but I’ve found that FYH melts well and has a pleasant consistency. 

Their lowest saturated fat options include Shredded Parmesan (3.5g) and American, Smoked Gouda, Provolone, Pepper Jack, Medium Cheddar, and Mozzarella slices (4g). 

4. Field Roast Chao Cheese Original Slices

Field Roast Chao Cheese Original slices are another great option when you’re looking for a cheese-like texture. I love how creamy these slices are, making them a great base for a grilled “cheese” sandwich! 

And with only 4 grams of saturated fat per serving, they fit well into a cholesterol-friendly eating pattern. 

5. Homemade nut-based cheeses

Of course, store-bought vegan cheeses aren’t your only option. Making them at home from cashews, almonds, or other nuts and seeds is a great way to get the creaminess or crumbliness you want while saving money. They’re also lower in saturated fat if made without coconut oil.

Two great options are this Vegan Cashew Queso and this Basic Almond Cheese.


Cholesterol is only found in animal-based foods. Vegan cheese is always made from 100% plant-based ingredients and never contains cholesterol.

Overdoing it on vegan cheeses that are high in saturated fat, however, may raise cholesterol levels, especially in people who are more sensitive to its effects.

That said, enjoying vegan cheeses as an occasional condiment or addition to a well-balanced plant-based diet rich in beans, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats likely won’t have too much of an impact on cholesterol levels for most people.

Looking for a vegan cream cheese to top your morning bagel? Try my protein-packed Vegan Strawberry Cream Cheese!

The scientific information in this article was accurate at the time of publishing but may change over time as new research becomes available.


  1. Antoni R. Dietary saturated fat and cholesterol: cracking the myths around eggs and cardiovascular disease. J Nutr Sci. 2023;12:e97. Published 2023 Sep 11. doi:10.1017/jns.2023.82
  2. Hooper L, Martin N, Jimoh OF, Kirk C, Foster E, Abdelhamid AS. Reduction in saturated fat intake for cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2020;5(5):CD011737. Published 2020 May 19. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD011737.pub2

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